Fortnite creators Epic Games have faced many legal suits of recent years, with 2 Milly, Alfonso Ribiero, The Backpack Kid, and others bringing legal action over Epic Games’ use of dances, emotes, and other actions that are associated with these acts.
Now, however, it’s gone the other way. Epic Games are suing Matt Geiler, the person behind the ever-popular-around-Halloween ‘Dancing Pumpkin Man’. This follows Matt Geiler sending a cease-and-desist to Epic Games in October which demanded that the company stop using his likeness for the “Pump It Up” emote, threatening legal action if this wasn’t complied with.
Following this cease-and-desist order, Epic Games have countered with a lawsuit that aims to seek a pre-emptive ruling that the company did not infringe upon Geiler’s copyright or trademark. The suit refutes Geiler’s claims, stating that characters with pumpkin heads are a common theme in Halloween-related works, that he only made the suit from a pre-existing decoration, and that the outfit he wore in his video isn’t ‘substantially similar’ to the one used in Fortnite.
The complexity in the case, and the apparent reason for the lawsuit following Geiler’s cease-and-desist is that Geiler had apparently reached a deal with Epic Games in the past regarding using his likeness and dance, and had publicly stated so on a Facebook comment and a story in MEL Magazine.
The suit itself seeks a declaratory judgement for non-infringement, which if granted would declare that Epic Games have not infringed upon Geiler’s works and hasn’t broken any rules. The suit also seeks legal expenses, fees, and further damages as the court sees fit.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on this case as it develops, especially as it comes in the wake of other high profile emote-related lawsuits being dropped after the US Supreme Court changed how copyright suits can be filed.